Jobs for the Month
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The website of the Mersea Island Horticultural Society

Jobs for the Month – January
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletContinue to prune apple and pear trees if conditions allow; do not prune in freezing weather; ensure tools are sharp and cleaned after pruning each tree or bush to avoid spreading fungal or viral diseases;
 
bulletPlant lily bulbs if the ground is not frozen or waterlogged; bulbs can also be potted up now or existing bulbs split to ensure good growth and flowering in the coming season;
 
bulletTake root cuttings of phlox, Oriental poppies, verbascum, acanthus (bear’s breeches), eryngium and clerondendrum;
 
bulletSow seeds of sweet peas, begonia, lobelia, salvia and pelargoniums in a heated propagator to get an early start; grow the seedlings on in reduced heat on a sunny windowsill (not in direct sunlight) or heated greenhouse;
 
bulletOnion seeds can be sown now in gentle heat in pots or seed trays; prick the seedlings out into modules or individual pots when they reach the “crook” stage (i.e. they resemble a shepherd’s crook);
 
bulletIndoor cyclamen that have finished flowering can be moved to a cool greenhouse; reduce watering but don’t let the plants dry out completely;
 
bulletPoinsettias should be watered as normal until March if they are going to be kept for future years;
 
bulletTake hardwood cuttings of cornus (dogwood), salix, forsythia, weigela, escallonia, ribes and roses;
 
bulletPrune the sideshoots on wisteria back to 2 or 3 buds of the main stems to encourage flowering spurs for the coming season;
 
bulletPrune deciduous woody plants such as beech, hazel and Virginia creeper;
 
bulletStart chitting early potato varieties in a cool but frost-free, dry, bright place indoors; egg boxes or seed trays are useful receptacles for this task;
 
bulletWater and feed overwintering fuchsias and keep temperatures above 5 degrees Celsius to encourage them gently back into growth.

 

Jobs for the Month – February
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletIn mid-February, sow tomato and cucumber seeds for plants to be grown in the greenhouse; sow in a heated propagator or warm windowsill and grow on at a slightly lower temperature;
 
bulletAutumn fruiting raspberries can be pruned now; cut the fruited shoots right down to ground level, remove any weeds and give the canes a good mulch covering;
 
bulletApply a general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore to tree, bush and cane fruit and apply a thick mulch around the stems;
 
bulletIn late February, cut back ornamental grasses to allow the fresh leaves to grow on unimpeded
 
bulletTopdress beds and borders with Growmore or Blood, Fish & Bone fertiliser in late February to promote growth for the coming season
 
bulletStart dahlia tubers in pots into growth by watering more frequently and applying a weak liquid fertiliser weekly;
 
bulletBegonia and gloxinia tubers can be potted up now
 
bulletNow is the time to prune Buddleia shrubs hard back to promote good strong growth for flowering later in the year;
 
bulletLate-summer and autumn flowering clematis (Group 3) can be pruned now
 
bulletPrune Mahonia bushes back after flowering to promote branching and to keep the shrubs compact;
 
bulletPrune back shrubs that are grown for their coloured winter stems such as dogwoods and willows; most of these shrubs can be cut hard back to ensure a good display of young colourful stems next winter;
 
bulletPrune the winter flowering jasmine (Jasmium nudiflorum) after flowering; cut flowered stems back to a couple of buds from the main stem and remove any brown dead material to enhance the appearance of the shrub;
 
bulletHostas can be divided now when the new growth is just starting to come through but before the leaves emerge fully.

 

Jobs for the Month – March
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletComplete the pruning of gooseberries and autumn raspberries before the end of the month
 
bulletPlant shallots, garlic and onion sets if conditions allow
 
bulletApply a general purpose fertiliser and mulch to beds and borders to boost plants and shrubs and lock in the moisture from winter rains
 
bulletRenovate overgrown climbers such as honeysuckle by cutting hard back and feeding with a general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore or Blood, Fish and Bone
 
bulletPlant and divide herbaceous perennials
 
bulletTop dress container grown plants with fresh compost; remove the top couple of inches of old compost
 
bulletStart canna lilies into growth by watering more frequently and applying a weak liquid feed such as Phostrogen at each watering
 
bulletCut back over-wintered pelargoniums, fuchsias and other tender perennials
 
bulletPlant out first early potatoes
 
bulletPot up begonia tubers
 
bulletStop watering poinsettias; wait for the leaves to drop then shorten the stems to 3 or 4 buds; keep at 13°C
 
bulletTrim ornamental grasses : festuca, Pampas and stipa grasses can be cut to ground level; Miscanthus should be cut to 8 – 10cm
 
bulletSow hardy annuals in pots or modules
 
bulletPot up cuttings of tender perennials taken last summer

 

Jobs for the Month – April
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletSow herbs such as basil, parsley and chives now
 
bulletVegetables for growing under cover such as sweet peppers, cucumbers and aubergines can be sown indoors now
 
bulletPlant asparagus crowns
 
bulletApply a general purpose fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or Growmore to borders and beds to boost growth of plants and shrubs
 
bulletPut supports in place for tall perennials that require staking; it is better to get these in place now rather than struggle to insert them amongst unwieldy growth later in the season
 
bulletDivide clumps of herbaceous perennials and replant in soil invigorated with well rotted compost or manure
 
bulletSow sweet peas outdoors where they are to flower
 
bulletTop up pots and tubs with fresh compost
 
bulletRe-pot house plants and topdress large containers adding some slow-release fertiliser
 
bulletIncrease the watering and feeding of indoor plants
 
bulletPropagate fuchsias from softwood or stem-tip cuttings
 
bulletPrune evergreen shrubs such as choisya or laurel
 
bulletDivide overgrown clumps of bamboo
 
bulletDivide and replant overcrowded waterlilies
 
bulletTake softwood cuttings of verbena, salvia, diascia and osteospermum
 
bulletApply Growmore or blood, fish and bone to strawberries, raspberries and fruit trees at a rate of 70g per square metre
 
bulletCut penstemons to 10 – 15cm from the ground and apply a handful of well balanced fertiliser

 

Jobs for the Month – May
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletStart removing side-shoots from indoor tomatoes
 
bulletPlace straw beneath strawberry plants to keep the fruit clean
 
bulletComplete mulching beneath fruit trees; keep the area just around the trunk clear to avoid rotting
 
bulletHarvest asparagus spears from established plants
 
bulletSow cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli and leeks outside in seed beds
 
bulletEarth-up potatoes
 
bulletStake peas and prepare supports for runner beans
 
bulletPlant out canna lilies and dahlias after the last frosts
 
bulletComplete the planting of summer-flowering bulbs
 
bulletSow biennials such as wallflowers for transplanting in the autumn
 
bulletPut supports in place for tall perennials such as lupins, delphiniums and monkshood
 
bulletDeadhead and divide crowded clumps of spring-flowering bulbs
 
bulletRe-pot house plants and increase watering rates gradually
 
bulletTrim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers fade
 
bulletDivide and transplant bamboos
 
bulletPrune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, ribes and spiraea after flowering
 
bulletHang pheromone traps in apple trees to reduce codling moth numbers
 
bulletCheck for lily beetle on fritillarias and lilies
 
bulletCheck roses for blackspot, aphids and leaf-rolling sawfly, taking measures where appropriate.

 

Jobs for the Month – June
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

Download Printable Version
 

bulletPlace straw beneath strawberry plants to keep the fruit clean
 
bulletComplete mulching beneath fruit trees; keep the area just around the trunk clear to avoid rotting
 
bulletHarvest asparagus spears from established plants
 
bulletSow cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli and leeks outside in seed beds
 
bulletEarth-up potatoes
 
bulletStake peas and prepare supports for runner beans
 
bulletPlant out canna lilies and dahlias after the last frosts
 
bulletComplete the planting of summer-flowering bulbs
 
bulletSow biennials such as wallflowers for transplanting in the autumn
 
bulletPut supports in place for tall perennials such as lupins, delphiniums and monkshood
 
bulletDeadhead and divide crowded clumps of spring-flowering bulbs
 
bulletRe-pot house plants and increase watering rates gradually
 
bulletTrim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers fade
 
bulletDivide and transplant bamboos
 
bulletPrune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, ribes and spiraea after flowering
 
bulletHang pheromone traps in apple trees to reduce codling moth numbers
 
bulletCheck for lily beetle on fritillarias and lilies

 

Jobs for the Month – July
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bullet Thin out apples after the “June drop” to ensure good sized fruit for harvesting later in the year; leaving a multitude of apples in clusters will lead to smaller, inferior crops
 
bullet Cut out the fruited stems of summer raspberries to encourage new shoots which will carry next year’s crop
 
bullet Cut back sideshoots of gooseberries, redcurrants and whitecurrants
 
bullet Now is the last opportunity to sow crops of runner and French beans
 
bullet Plant out leeks and winter brassicas in their final cropping positions
 
bullet Sow seeds of biennial flowers such as foxgloves, sweet Williams and wallflowers
 
bullet Regularly clip fast-growing hedges such as Leyland cypress, privet etc
 
bullet Start pruning the excess growth on wisteria
 
bullet Prune deciduous magnolias if required
 
bullet Trim overgrown clematis Montana
 
bullet Cut out the reverted green foliage on variegated shrubs
 
bullet Large blackish spots on apple and pear leaves indicates scab; remove and burn affected leaves
 
bullet Re-pot cyclamen that have been left out for summer
 
bullet Trim lavender after flowering
 
bullet Watch out for gooseberry sawfly damage on gooseberry leaves and stems
 
bullet Divide bearded iris after flowering

 

Jobs for the Month – August
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletLift onions, shallots and garlic when the leaves turn yellow and fall over; do not bend the leaves over to pre-empt this as storage problems may result from damaged necks
 
bulletTransplant summer-sown cabbage, broccoli and kale plants
 
bulletSow green manures on vacant ground
 
bulletTie in new canes on raspberries and blackberries
 
bulletComplete summer pruning of trained fruit trees
 
bulletPrepare new strawberry beds
 
bulletClip over lavenders after flowering
 
bulletCut back hardy geraniums to encourage fresh foliage and a second flush of flowers
 
bulletComplete division of bearded irises
 
bulletTake cuttings of fuchsias, pelargoniums, osteospermums and penstemons
 
bulletContinue summer pruning of wisteria
 
bulletPrune rambling roses after flowering
 
bulletLightly trim hebes
 
bulletGive hedges a final trim
 
bulletTake cuttings of Buddleia, Holly, Hydrangeas and Pyracantha
 
bulletRemove fruit affected with brown rot
 
bulletSpray apples with calcium nitrate if bitter pit has been a problem
 
bulletCut back summer fruiting raspberries

 

Jobs for the Month – September
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

Download Printable Version

bulletTake cuttings of pelargoniums and osteospermums
 
bulletSow turnips, spinach, winter lettuce, oriental vegetables and onions
 
bulletPlant out onion sets and spring cabbage plants
 
bulletCut down asparagus foliage then mulch beds with organic matter
 
bulletPrune out diseased shoots on fruit trees
 
bulletPot up hippeastrum bulbs; plant up containers of prepared hyacinths
 
bulletPlant evergreen trees and shrubs
 
bulletTake semi-ripe cuttings of evergreen shrubs
 
bulletGive evergreen hedges a final trim
 
bulletScarify, aerate and top dress lawns; apply autumn lawn food
 
bulletThin out submerged oxygenating plants
 
bulletDivide cool-climate grasses and evergreen sedges
 
bulletPlant daffodils by mid-September to ensure a good spring show
 
bulletCut out the fruited canes of summer raspberries
 
bulletPlant out perennials and divide existing clumps
 
bulletKeep camellias and rhododendrons well watered

 

Jobs for the Month – October
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

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bulletSow green manures to retain nutrients in the soil over winter and avoid the winter rains leaching them out
 
bulletSow Broad Beans for an early spring crop
 
bulletLift and divide rhubarb crowns
 
bulletCut out the fruited canes of hybrid berries and tie in the new canes for next years crop
 
bulletPlant out spring bedding plants such as wallflowers, forget-me-nots and polyanthas
 
bulletComplete the potting up of prepared hyacinths for Christmas displays
 
bulletPrune climbing and bush roses
 
bulletTake hardwood cuttings of roses, dogwoods and willow
 
bulletPlant hedges, trees and move trees and shrubs
 
bulletLay turf if weather conditions allow
 
bulletApply autumn lawn feed
 
bulletApply grease bands to fruit trees to trap winter moth infestation
 
bulletSow sweet peas for an earlier display and hardier plants next summer
 
bulletFinish planting autumn onion sets
 
bulletPlant garlic
 
bulletTidy up old foliage and runners on strawberry plants

 

 

Jobs for the Month – November
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

Download Printable Version

bulletPlant cane, bush and tree fruits 
 
bulletPlant garlic cloves
 
bulletStart winter pruning of apple and pear trees
 
bulletSow winter rye as a green manure
 
bulletComplete the potting up of lily bulbs
 
bulletPlant tulips
 
bulletTake root cuttings of poppies, verbascum, phlox and eryngium
 
bulletPlant bare root deciduous trees and shrubs 
 
bulletPrune deciduous trees and shrubs after leaf fall
 
bulletComplete pruning of climbing roses
 
bulletPrune out shoots infected with canker on fruit trees
 
bulletComplete dividing and replanting perennials and grasses
 
bulletMulch borderline-hardy plants for protection against winter cold (e.g. agapanthus, kniphofia, phygelius
 
bulletApply grease bands to fruit trees
 
bulletPrune bush roses to reduce wind rock 
 
bulletRenovate deciduous hedges

Jobs for the Month – December
(courtesy Trevor Hearn)

Download Printable Version

bulletPick budded stems of Christmas Box (Sarcococca), Viburnum, Wintersweet and Witch Hazel for fragrant winter flowers indoors 
 
bulletCreate a Christmas wreath using cut winter stems, berries, seed heads and seasonal foliage
 
bulletContinue to dig new planting areas
 
bulletPrune overgrown deciduous hedges such as hornbeam and beech
 
bulletTake hardwood cuttings of climbers such as wisteria, vines and Virginia creeper
 
bulletContinue to remove fallen leaves from borders and rock gardens where small plants may be smothered
 
bulletProtect vulnerable garden plants with bark mulches or straw and fleece if freezing conditions threaten
 
bulletClear away old crops in the vegetable garden and dig in bulky organic matter such as garden compost or well-rotted horse manure 
 
bulletHarvest celery, beetroot, turnips, sprouts and carrots
 
bulletEarth-up tall Brussels sprout stems to support them against winds
 
bulletHeel-in bare root fruit trees or bushes in a spare corner of the garden if they arrive when conditions are not suitable for planting
 
bulletBrowse seed catalogues and send off orders to ensure your desired varieties do not sell out
 
bulletContinue to prune apple and pear trees providing frosty conditons are not forecast
 
bulletPut your feet up and enjoy a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine whilst reflecting on another successful gardening year
 
bulletHave a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 
 
 

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